Film Project #3 for the second quarter is for you to write a script which you’ll use for a short film. You script must follow formatting guidelines as covered in class. An example of a script (which also gives formatting guidelines) is here. Your script will be 3-5 pages long, and therefore the film made from it will be 3-5 minutes long. It’s a doozy, it’s a big project, but don’t worry. It’ll go by quicker than you’d imagine once you start adding the establishing shots, the fade-ins and outs, the wide shots, etc.
A script is written differently than a story. There are specific ways to write, most of which have to do with ease of understanding for the many different people that will need to script to help them do their job. Did you think only the actors and actresses needed a script? Nope. The script gives basic guidelines for the director, for the camera-person, the lighting crew, the location manager, make-up, and more. It gives explicit instructions for what parts need to be very specific or whether they’re vague and left to the director’s or the actor’s discretion. They’re complex and no one expects you to be able to write one when you’re in middle school, but it’ll be nice to have an idea how they work.
So, without further ado…
Where do you start? You start with a title page (no this doesn’t count for the page count). The title page is simple and straight to the point:
Now that’s finished, you can get to the meat and potatoes of the script:
These images were taken from Writing for Electronic Media, you can check it out for more formatting information.
The basics for the nuts and bolts are as follows (taken from here):
Layout is not something that should trouble you when you are writing your screenstory. However, when you do sit down to write you r draft screenplay, it is very important that it is written in the correct format.
The Mastershot format (as the feature film format is known) was developed in Hollywood during the days of the typewriter, so the font you use is always Courier 12 point or Courier New 12 pt, using standard margins for each different element of your screenplay.
SCENE HEADINGS (or ‘Slug Lines’): Left Margin: 1.50” Right Margin: 7.50”
ACTION (description of what happens): Left Margin: 1.50” Right Margin: 7.50”
CHARACTER NAME : Left Margin: 3.50” Right Margin: 7.25”
PARANTHETICAL: Left Margin: 3.00” Right Margin: 5.50”
DIALOGUE: Left Margin: 2.50” Right Margin: 6.00”
TRANSITIONS: Left Margin: 5.50”
There are several reasons for this:
When screenplays are formatted correctly, one page translates, on average, into one minute of screen time so you can tell whether your story is the right length • Readers and producers do not like it when writers pretend their screenplay is shorter than it is by stretching the margins o r using a tighter font • Formatting helps readers check at a glance whether you are writing too much dialogue or describing things in too much detail • Formatting helps readers compare one script with another without being distracted by fancy typefaces.
Your story will end and begin with a Fade in and a Fade out. You’re going to have to think of a story yourself. Let me know if you need any help. Let’s keep it simple for our first time, you’ll need a main character and they’ll have some sort of conflict. You can add whatever details you’d like, but think clearly about how you’d like it to be shown on film.
This project will be due on Jan. 5, 2018. You will need to include opening and closing credits in the final production of this film, but that’s not part of the script.